Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus are defending President Trump’s performance at the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Members of the group applauded the president’s diplomatic efforts, arguing the media has placed too much focus on his remarks at a post-summit press conference with Putin and not enough on his actions. “I think the good news is there was a summit,” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) said at a press conference. “I think it was good for the president to be engaged in diplomacy, this is consistent with efforts under George W. Bush and Barrack Obama.” “The reality is people are upset about what President Trump has said but they’re not giving him credit for what he’s done,” said Davidson, who highlighted sanctions imposed on Trump’s watch and the dismissal of people from the Russian consulate. “Instead of getting credit for that, people look for the most partisan narrative.” Trump has come under bipartisan fire for taking Putin’s word that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election over the findings of the U.S. intelligence community.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said he’s not afraid of pushing back against the president when it’s warranted. But he said the Russia summit didn’t merit the harsh criticisms of Trump.
Meadows went on to say that Congress should focus its attention on passing legislation to fight election interference instead of criticizing Trump’s remarks.
President Trump was criticized for slamming special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and FBI agent Peter Strzok as which he named a “disgrace” at the joint press conference with Putin, and described the Russian leader’s suggestion that Mueller’s team cooperate with Russia’s own investigation as an excellent offer.
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